SC:Weak defence is no basis to grant relief in case of actionable nuisance

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 6th May 2020, in the matter of Ratnagiri Nagar Parishad v. Gangaram Narayan Ambekar & Ors. observed that initial burden of proof is on the plaintiff to substantiate a cause for actionable nuisance. In such a case, the weakness in the defence cannot be the basis to grant relief to the plaintiff and to shift the burden on the defendants.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

Where the averments regarding title are mentioned in the plaint but if the matter involves complicated question of fact and law relating to title, the Court will relegate the parties to the remedy of a comprehensive suit for declaration of title, instead of deciding the issue in a suit for mere injunction. (Para 14)

Initial burden of proof is on the plaintiff to substantiate the cause for actionable nuisance. In such a case, the weakness in the defence cannot be the basis to grant relief to the plaintiff and to shift the burden on the defendants. (Para 16)

Section 41(f) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 clearly mandates that an injunction cannot be granted to prevent, on the ground of nuisance, an act of which it is not reasonably clear that it will be a nuisance. (Para 18)

To wit, when the proposal regarding setting up of the Project is being finalised and permissions are granted by the competent authority under the concerned statutory dispensation, at that time, the affected parties would be free to make representation which can be considered by the competent authority appropriately. Hence, the civil Court ought not to have granted injunction simpliciter also because of the stipulation in Section 41(h) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, wherein it is made amply clear that when equally efficacious relief can certainly be obtained by any other usual mode of proceeding except in case of breach of trust, an injunction cannot be granted. (Para 18)

The scheme of Section 41 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 predicates that the civil Court must refuse to grant injunction in the situations referred to therein vide clauses (a) to (j). The recent amendment to that provision by Act 18 of 2018 has inserted clause (ha), for making it explicitly clear that the civil Court must refuse to grant injunction if it would impede or delay the progress of completion of any infrastructure project. (Para 18)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_06th-May-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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